Leading organisations join forces to drive circular economy through purchasing power

14 July 2023 - Published by Lisanne van ‘t Hoff
A group of leading businesses and public sector organisations from across the North Sea Region have committed to action to create a circular economy, mobilising over €45 million of their combined purchasing power to stimulate supplier innovation in “circular products” and foster new “circular business models” in the professional clothing, covering corporate uniforms and PPE, and office furniture industries.

The initiatives aim to address sustainability concerns in the targeted product categories by bridging the innovation trap where buyers do not find enough innovative suppliers in the market and suppliers do not innovate and scale up in the absence of demand.

The lack of a circular economy in the clothing value chain has substantial environmental impacts including high water consumption, microfibre pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions – the fashion industry as a whole is responsible for around 10% of global carbon emissions. WRAP’s analysis estimates that in the UK 90% of professional clothing is sent to landfill or incineration after use – a higher proportion than for clothing in general. Meanwhile, 80-90% of the furniture in Europe ends its first life either in a landfill or being incinerated for energy according to European Federation of Furniture Manufacturers (UEA) statistics.

Coordinated by Business in the Community (UK) two Joint Statements of Demand on Circular Professional Clothing and Circular Office Furniture have been released, setting out procurement commitments which aim to reward suppliers that are able to offer circular economy solutions. Each Joint Statement of Demand includes a set of ‘circular asks’ that the procurers would like suppliers to be able to deliver against by 2028. A third Joint Statement of Demand on Circular Electric Vehicle Chargers is in development (link), being co-ordinated by City of Malmö, Circular Flanders and Rijkswaterstaat.

It is intended that through transparency about these future procurement asks, suppliers will have the confidence to invest in developing new circular offers, being assured that there will be a demand for the solutions which they develop. The aim is to build a critical mass of signatories to overcome the innovation gap and enable a major shift.

Each Joint Statement of Demand has been created by a working group of procurers as part of the Interreg North Sea Region ProCirc project.

Initial signatories to the Joint Statement of Demand on Circular Professional Clothing include:

  • Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (UK)
  • Environment Agency (UK)
  • SUEZ Recycling and Recovery UK (UK)

Initial signatories to the Joint Statement of Demand on Circular Office Furniture include:

  • Central Procurement Body of Norway (Norway)
  • Jones Land LaSalle Ltd (UK)
  • Kolding Municipality (Denmark)

More information on the Joint Statements of Demand and how to become a signatory can be found here.


“Procurement power is a powerful lever for change in creating a circular economy. We encourage all  buyers committed to being responsible businesses to become signatories to the Joint Statements of Demand to send a strong signal to the marketplace that circularity is being prioritised as a means of reducing carbon emissions,  safeguarding our natural environment, and creating local jobs.” Maya de Souza, Circular Economy Director at Business in the Community

“The professional clothing industry cannot continue as it is. The sector presents a great opportunity to make the circular economy work in practice, as buyers can work with suppliers collaboratively to make the collection and recycling operations work efficiently. Professional clothing buyers have a crucial role and to play and have the power to make a difference by encouraging innovation for sustainable practices. I commend those who have become signatories to the Joint Statements of Demand for taking the first steps to doing this.” Yvette Ashby, CEO at PCIAW (Professional Clothing Industry Association Worldwide)

“SUEZ is committed to buying more sustainable clothing. By signing up to the Joint Statement of Demand on Circular Professional Clothing we have already seen our supplier offering us more circular options. We would encourage other buyers to join this initiative to increase our collective impact.” Wendy Storey, Procurement Sustainability and Compliance Manager at SUEZ

Statistics referenced:

About Business in the Community

Business in the Community is the UK’s largest and most influential responsible business network dedicated to building a fairer and greener world together, supported by His Majesty The King for over 40 years. We inspire, engage and challenge purposeful leaders to take practical action to mobilise their collective strength as a force for good in society by:

  • Working fairer – to help everyone reach their full potential.
  • Working greener – to accelerate climate action.
  • Working together – to continually improve business and deliver impact at pace and scale.

Our specialist advisers support individual businesses by delivering targeted interventions, training and strategic change programmes, sharing best practice and frameworks for action.

About City of Malmö

City of Malmö City of Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden with around 360 000 inhabitants.

It’s a post-industrial city that reinvented itself as a dynamic knowledge centre built on cultural diversity, youth and sustainable development.

City of Malmö has high ambition related to Circular Economy and Procurement.

About Rijkswaterstaat

Rijkswaterstaat is responsible for the national infrastructure facilities in the Netherlands. Additionally, Rijkswaterstaat manages -on behalve of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management- programs implementing the national policy on circular economy. These programs aim to stimulate the circular economy by reducing the lifecycle environmental impacts across the whole value chain through sector-based collaborations and instruments like circular procurement, circular design, extended producer responsibility, voluntary agreements, and material chain management.

About Circular Flanders

Circular Flanders is the central hub for the Flemish circular economy, bringing together governments, companies, civil society, and the knowledge community to drive collective action. The Government of Flanders has prioritized the circular economy as a key transition area, appointing the Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM) as the initiator of Circular Flanders. The operational team operates within OVAM to oversee day-to-day activities.